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A Bee-Species Has Evolved To Pollinate Snapdragons
Of course all living organisms evolve in accordance with the state of the environment. You all know that plants are pollinated by a variety of insects, especially bees. Insects do not typically evolve in order to adapt to evolutionary changes of the flowers that they pollinate. Typically, if not always, nature has it the other way around. Plants will evolve in order to conform to the way pollinating insects evolve. However, researchers have finally found an exception to this rule. There is at least one group of insects in the world that have adapted to conform to anatomical changes in the flowers that they pollinate.
According to professor, and leader of the research team that discovered the strange case of insect adaptation, Anton Pauw, in order for flowers to successfully reproduce, they have learned to adapt quickly to changes in their pollinators anatomy or behavior. However, Dr. Pauw has recently discovered that a little known bee species, referred to as Rediviva, has developed extra long front legs in order to reach the oil located deep within a snapdragon’s twin spurs. The rare bee has front legs that are noticeably long. The customized bee legs measure anywhere between seven and a little more than twenty three millimeters in length. The long legs of the Rediviva bee species are coated with long and dense hairs that are as smooth as velvet. These hairs soak up the snapdragon flower oil. The bees then mix the oil with pollen in order to make a nutritious bread-like meal. The oil and pollen preparation is created mainly to nourish their larvae, which live deep within underground nests. This substance is also used to coat the walls of their underground nests.
Dr. Pauw collaborated with other entomologists living in Germany, the United Kingdom, and the United States in order to compare the leg lengths of the Rediviva of South Africa with other bee species around the world. After comparing the leg lengths of a variety of different species of bee, Dr. Pauw became confident that the Rediviva species of bee developed long legs in order to adapt to the changing anatomy of the nutritious flowers that they pollinate..
Do you think that there exists a variety of insects in the world that evolve in accordance with the flowers that they pollinate? Is it possible for all insects to adapt to the flowers that they feed on?
The United States is plagued with a variety of different insect pests. One of the most damaging of all insect pests in America is the gypsy moth caterpillar. These caterpillars get around more than your average insect pests, as they destroy a number of different and important plants. For example, these caterpillars damage numerous forest trees, including oak and aspen trees. In some regions of the US, gypsy moth caterpillars have successfully destroyed entire regions of forestland.
In 2016 gypsy moth caterpillars destroyed the leaves of every tree within a three hundred and fifty thousand acre region of forestland in Massachusetts. These caterpillars also destroy plant life on people’s property as well as numerous orchards. Control methods are difficult to apply to these invasive caterpillars since they are so numerous. Also, once these caterpillars become active in areas with prominent vegetation, there is no chance of saving the afflicted plants. Luckily, recent research has found that a particular fungal spore can destroy gypsy moth caterpillars.
The particular fungal pathogen, officially referred to as Entomophaga maimaiga, was found in New England in 1989. In a stroke of good luck, researchers discovered that these spores only kill gypsy moths and their caterpillars; all other forms of life seem undisturbed by the presence of these spores, and the large clouds that they create.
Once a gypsy moth caterpillar crawls over one of these spores, the spores release enzymes that create a hole in the caterpillars body. The enzymes will then enter the body through the hole and infest the caterpillar, eventually killing them. The caterpillars are unaware of their impending death, which occurs six days after becoming infected by the spores. Once the host caterpillar is killed by the spore’s enzyme, new spores will spring from the caterpillars dead body. These new spores then become windborne. These windborne spores can infect all other gypsy moth caterpillars in a nearby area. In fact, these windborne spores can travel as far as forty miles to infect other populations of gypsy moth caterpillars.
Do you think that it would be safe to release large amounts of these spores over large regions of forestland in order to prevent gypsy moth caterpillar-related damage to plant life?
You don’t have to be an expert entomologist to know that the insect world is full of bugs that demonstrate highly unusual mating behaviors. Take for example the scorpionfly. These flying insects are already unique among insects for a variety of reasons that are not related to their sexuality. For instance, scorpionflies are among the oldest of insects that undergo a complete metamorphosis. Scorpionflies evolved from ancient insects known as Permian panorpoids that existed as far back as one hundred and ninety million years ago. These ancient insects also gave rise to butterflies, moths, and true flies. What is most unusual about modern scorpionflies is the manner in which the males advertise their reproductive fitness to females. The scorpionfly’s mating ritual involves the males making a gift of their spit to the females.
As a result of millions of years of saliva-related seduction, the male scorpionfly has evolved enormous salivary glands. Male scorpionflies may also attempt to impress potential female mates by presenting them with delicious dead insects. However, entomologists agree that this method is only secondary to the males presentation of their own spitballs, as nothing seems to impress the female scorpionflies more than an impressive pool of saliva. Females seem to respond positively to the males saliva, as the females will often return to a particular male only after they make a production out of the prowess of their overactive salivary glands, and the puddle of spit that inevitably results. It is believed that females are attracted to the pheromones that the male saliva produces.
Studies have also demonstrated that more attractive male scorpionflies produces spit-gifts, if you will, that are of lesser quality than spit produced by less attractive scorpionflies. This is likely due to less attractive males adapting to attract females with their relatively higher quality spit. More attractive male scorpionflies, on the other hand, do not require the same degree of spit-quality on account of their innate attractiveness. In any case, female scorpionflies seem to find a male’s high-quality spit irresistible.
Have you ever heard of an insect with a more peculiar mating ritual than the ritual described above? If you have, then what type of insect do you have in mind?
This Years First American Zika Victim Has Experts Concerned
Just as many people were beginning to breathe a sigh of relief concerning the spread of the Zika virus in the United States, experts are once again concerned. A man, who has not been identified, has been diagnosed with the Zika virus. According to medical experts, this man is no longer capable of spreading the virus. The man is believed to have contracted the virus in the state of Texas. What is troubling experts is the fact that this man’s virus was transmitted within the United States, as the victim had not traveled to locations outside of the US.
This particular Zika case is the first case of infection within the US since last fall. The victim became infected in the county of Hidalgo near the Mexican border. The virus was transmitted at some point during the last three months. Luckily, the virus normally disappears from the blood of its victims within a couple of weeks after the first signs of recovery. However, the virus can linger in sperm for months, which is the primary concern, as pregnant women and their babies suffer the worst consequences of this virus. Medical professionals have not mentioned the sex of the infected individual.
As a result of this most recent case, medical professionals with the Department of Public Health are increasing Zika control efforts. And doctors in the area have been asked to keep their eyes open for any further cases, as health officials do not want to take even the slightest of risks.
The Pan American Health Organization has reported continuing cases of Zika transmission within most regions of Mexico. The bulk of Zika cases have been reported in southern Mexico, but northern Mexico has not been seeing any marked decrease in Zika cases since last year. In order to keep Americans safe from Zika it is necessary to combat the virus within the country of Mexico as well. Unfortunately, not a lot of progress is being made when it comes to Zika control in Mexico.
If America sees an increase in Zika infections within its own borders in the future, do you believe that poor Zika control within Mexico will be to blame?
Even some of the most avid spider enthusiasts are not aware that some spiders are equipped to fly. The castaway ghost spider is one such spider, and not only can this spider fly, but it is also able to fly across oceans. Two million years ago spiders migrated to different islands via a method experts call “ballooning.”
Ballooning is a technique in which spiders use their silk as a kite to guide them through the air and into more preferable environments. Millions of years ago one type of spider made it to Robinson Crusoe Island, and today there are several different species of spider that are located on that island. Some of these spiders are still waiting to be identified by scientists. At one point in time there were not spiders at all inhabiting Robinson Crusoe Island, so to see several different species of spider on that island was a surprise to researchers. Scientists believe that Robinson Crusoe Island will keep entomologists busy for year to come.
Aside from the ballooning method, are there any other possible ways in which a spider could have found its way onto an island?